Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pocket Picks - October

There were quite a few portable release last month, so I'm going to narrow this big list down to the top three I played. I didn't get a chance to try Professor Layton and the Last Specter, sorry. It might have easily made second place on this list. What I will do here is give a brief breakdown of the three games I've enjoyed the most.


Aliens: Infestation

System: DS
Developer: WayForward
Publisher: Sega
Current Amazon Price: $29.95

Aliens: Infestation brings back memories of Super Metroid, and yes, that is a great thing. One fun (and sometimes frustrating) difference this game offers is multiple playable characters. The tough part is, like a Fire Emblem title, once you lose a character they are gone forever. This is only a problem if you are one of those people (like me) that can't stand to lose a character, so you'll be resetting a lot. It's a challenging game at times, but really harkens back to the spirit of similar past titles like Metroid. There is a lot of variety thanks to all of the character options, though early on it can be a little overwhelming and hard to see the difference between the team. That said, I can't recommend this one highly enough, especially for fans of similar titles. While I was not able to complete this title, I am more than ready to go back and finish it off as soon as I have more time.

Pros: Great gameplay with lots of exploration
Cons: A little too much dialogue, way more than needed
Recommended? Yes, this is great for anyone looking for a new spin on the Metroid formula.


Centipede: Infestation

System: 3DS
Developer: WayForward
Publisher: Atari
Current Amazon Price: $23.74

This list is almost a WayForward love fest, as this is their second game. Centipede: Infestation is a remake of the classic Atari series, but differs from a lot of other reimaginings in that it really sticks close to the spirit of the original. Infestation is a twin-stick shooter, though it is technically lacking a second stick. Players will hop from stage to stage mowing down wave after wave of pests. There are a variety of weapons that can be picked up such as a power gun or a flamethrower. This makes for a fantastic arcade experience, even if there is not a lot of depth, as it's really fun to play in small bursts. The one issue with this is the lack of a second stick, as using the face buttons to fire is a tad awkward for diagonal aiming. That said, Infestations is very solid, but not really groundbreaking. It's a great homage to the original, though it could do without the pointless cutscenes and attempt at adding a story.

Pros: Fun to play, especially in quick bursts
Cons: Pointless story elements with ridiculous cutscenes, awkward controls
Recommended? If you're just looking for a fun diversionary game, this is pretty fun though you might want to wait for a price drop.


Skylanders Spyro's Adventure

System: 3DS
Developer: Vicarious Visions
Publisher: Activision
Current Amazon Price: $68.99 (starter pack)

While the console version of Skylanders Spyro's Adventure is basically a dungeon crawler, the 3DS version is a platformer featuring multiple playable characters. This is a fantastic marketing idea from Activision, making these characters something that you actually have to buy in stores. How is this not a good idea from a financial standpoint? Putting that aside, the good part here is that Vicarious Visions actually did a good job making a fun action platformer. The game has some control issues tied into awkward level design and the mini-games are a little haphazard and dull, but it is an interesting attempt. The catch here is that these collectable Skylanders actually level up and can also be used across multiple versions of the game. While it is far from the best platformer available, the differentiation between characters gives it a nice spin that makes it worth giving a shot, though it doesn't really hold up for extended bouts. Parents beware; this will easily drain your wallets.

Pros: Lots of variety in characters...though they have to be bought
Cons: The entry price is too high. Platforming is competent, but not that compelling
Recommended? If you like collecting figures and want a decent platformer, try it. There are better games out there, though.

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